A tunnel between Jersey and France: What would happen to our house prices? Will the French be on board? And why not build a bridge instead?

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PLANS to build a tunnel to France are being given serious consideration.

But what impact would it have on island life? And what are the other options?

Why not build a bridge instead?

Stephen Whitham, a tunnel specialist at Ramboll engineering consultants, said that there were several reasons why a tunnel would, in his view, be preferable.

He argued that one of the main considerations was “security of supply”, or whether the link would be resilient. He explained that bridges were affected by bad weather – storms, fog and high winds.

Noise was also a factor, as sound travelled further over water and the traffic noise could become a nuisance for many.

Mr Whitham explained that a bridge was visually and environmentally obtrusive, as it would require piers every 50–60 metres that would damage delicate marine habitats.

Will the French be on board?

Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel said that the Channel Tunnel showed that such links could work well, adding that if the French were not on board any scheme would be dead in the water.

Channel Tunnel (37624025)

Deputy Montfort Tadier asked whether a tunnel would lead to the relationship with France becoming more fluid, given Islanders did not haver automatic rights to live and work in Europe since Brexit.

Deputy Morel said, “This is a political question, so it is quite solvable”, adding that a tunnel would certainly lead to “greater fluidity” between jurisdictions.

What would happen to the excavated rock?

Arild Petter Sovik, chief executive of the Norwegian Tunnelling Network, said that the ideal would be start the tunnel at both ends, so there would be spoil for all parties to contend with. Professor Eivind Grov, chief scientist at SINTEF, former president of Norwegian Tunnelling Network NTN, said that depending on the quality of the rock, it could be useful for construction and sold, or be waste for infill or reclamation.

What will happen to house prices?

Guernseyman Martin Dorey, who has championed the idea of a tunnel linking the islands and France for the past six or seven years, said that it would be foolish to assume that prices would always go up, adding that there was a far greater risk to house prices if the islands did nothing to address the massive challenges they faced.

Deputy Morel added that a cooling off of the market might be desirable, explaining that population pressures would only increase, with consequent inflationary impact on house prices if the number of people living in the Island increased dramatically.

Deputy Kirsten Morel Picture: James Jeune (37624037)

The Island would retain control over work and housing, and the tax advantages of living in the Island would remain.

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